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"...we contacted our adoption agency and talked things through. They were very reassuring and... really helpful."
You and your child(ren) will be supported by a social worker as you get to know each other, start living together and become a family.
Once you have been matched as the right family for your child and the match has been approved you can begin to get to know each other. If the initial meetings between you, the child and their foster parent have gone well then the child will come and visit you in your home. These visits, supported by a social worker, will be built up over time at a pace that is right for both you and the child.
After a series of visits you are ready for the child to move in with you. Before this happens you will have a final planning meeting, where you meet with your social worker, the child’s social worker, their foster parents, teachers and anyone else significantly involved in the child’s care. At this meeting you will discuss the coming move and agree the details of your Adoption Placement Plan.
This plan outlines all the support you will receive and when reviews of the placement will take place. It is there to make sure that you feel supported and the child is cared for as you go through this big change. Once everything is agreed, the child comes to live with you.
The arrival of a new child is a time of significant change for your whole family. Your adoption agency and the child’s social worker will be available to support you, and you will be eligible to take statutory adoption leave and pay (unless you are self-employed). This means you can take time to get to know your child and build the rhythms of family life. During this time you will have joint parental responsibility with the birth parents and the agency, though the balance of parental responsibility will vary depending on each individual case.
The post-placement support was better than you could imagine; we found it the most valuable part of the whole process.
Most adoption agencies request that adoptive parents spend a minimum of six months at home when a child is first placed, depending on their age, in order to help you to get to know each other. This enables you to begin to build a trusting relationship with your child and encourages emotional bonds to develop.
During this period of learning to live together a social worker will continue to visit you and support you and your child until the time feels right to apply to the court for an Adoption Order.
The minimum period before applying for an Adoption Order is 10 weeks, but many families are helped by a longer period of adjustment and value the continued support of social workers during this time.
Now I am a parent my only gripe is being referred to as an ‘adoptive mother’. As far as I’m concerned I am my child’s mother, full stop, although we both now know that he has two mummies. My son is far and away the best thing that has happened to me and adopting is the best thing I’ve ever done.
Once you have applied for an Adoption Order and this is granted by the court, the child is legally adopted by you and you have full parental responsibilities for him or her. The child is now a full member of your family and can take your surname.
You will receive post-adoption support from your agency but every family’s needs are unique and support is tailored accordingly. In addition there are voluntary organisations that are there to provide additional support at all stages of your journey. Here are some useful links:
Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies
CASA (the Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies) is a national forum representing registered Adoption Support Agencies (ASAs) in the UK, whether individuals or organisations. CASA provides information on ASAs, peer support between agencies, networking opportunities, a representational forum and a channel for promoting best practice.
The Post-Adoption Centre
A London-based organisation offering advice, counselling, therapeutic services and regular seminars and training events for adopters and professionals.
A service for children in adoptive families, foster families and families living with children who have experienced separation, loss or early trauma. Specialises in therapeutic work for children who have experienced early trauma and who have attachment difficulties.
An adoption agency that also provides post adoption support services to adoptive families and birth relatives.
Adoption UK is the only national self-help charity run by and for adoptive parents and foster carers, offering support before, during and after adoption.
New Family Social is the UK network for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) adoptive and foster families.
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